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City offers home heating safety tips

Warm weather appears to be behind us permanently for the season, and that means home fire season is ready to ramp up.

“Protecting yourself from home heating fires begins with taking the proper precautions and ensuring you are prepared,” said Fire Marshal Lt. Chuck Chapin. Chapin reminds citizens to keep the following simple safety tips in mind to prevent most heating-related fires from happening:

  • Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment, like the furnace, fireplace, wood stove or portable space heater.
  • Have a three-foot “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters.
  • Never use your oven to heat your home.
  • Have a qualified professional install stationary space heating equipment, water heaters or central heating equipment according to local codes and manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified professional.
  • Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.
  • Always use the right kind of fuel, specified by the manufacturer, for fuel burning space heaters.
  • Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room. Ashes should be cool before putting them in a metal container. Keep the container a safe distance away from your home.
  • If you do install a wood burning stove, make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions or have a professional do the installation. The equipment needs to be vented to the outside to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Alarms should be installed to avoid this risk. Since carbon monoxide is odorless and poisonous, it’s crucial that you keep your family and pets safe from its toxin. Again, be sure to change the batteries twice per year.
  • Test smoke alarms at least once a month.
  • Plan a fire escape route for each room of your home and ensure everyone in your household knows it. Ensure it’s easily accessible.

For more information on home fire safety, contact the Suffolk Fire & Rescue Department at 514-4550 or email fireprevbureau@suffolkva.us.